Tasting The Kenwood’s take-out menu

Photo by Isaiah Rustad

At first it was fun, cooking three meals a day at home after scouring the depleted supermarket shelves. But then you nicked the new marble countertop and exploded a bowl of Campbell’s in the microwave.

Oh, for the days of a table for two at 7.

The good news is: Yes, you can still do that! Though now it’s your own kitchen table, after a quick run to pick up a take-out order at your favorite neighborhood cafe. And who knows better how to serve its neighbors than The Kenwood? The line-up of cars looked just like the days when moms pulled over for dismissal at the former school across the street. As I waited my turn, rescue workers (aka servers) dashed forward with armloads of aromatic shopping bags.

The drill was easy: I simply checked The Kenwood’s website take-away menu and hours, then phoned in my order, credit card info, description of my ride and time desired.

Back at the condo, we started the feast with the kitchen’s mushroom soup (16 ounces, $10), which I recommend to Dr. Fauci as a possible virus vaccine. It’s almost sure to cure what ails you, starting with depression. The only problem is, it’s hard to maintain social distance when fighting your dinner partner for the last lick — it’s that rich and rewarding. It got that way via lots and lots of cream and ends with a long aftertaste of the essence of shiitakes. A few chewy slices garnish the surface, abetted by snippets of chives.

It made an elegant prelude to the neighborhood’s beat-all, hands-down best burger, The Kenwood. This icon comes constructed upon a generous soft bun daubed with a Thousand Island-like sauce. The beef comes next — a plump, loosely packed patty of sweet, sweet chopped beef. (“How would you like that done?” I was asked on the phone. “Rare as you can.” “Great choice!” the voice of chef/patron Don Saunders endorsed, sounding like he’d give me tartare if he could.)

It’s topped with a slice of pork belly rather than the usual, often over-cured and over-salted, slab of bacon. A slim square of mild Gruyere cheese comes next, then a fan of soft and pliant butter lettuce and, finally, a perfectly fried egg, its yolk a shimmer of liquid gold ($16, including option of fries or, our choice, salad — a toss of petite greens and olive-oil vinaigrette.) With it, we drank a bottle of Chateau de Whole Foods’ everyday red. (Since my visit, wine also can be ordered to go.)

Instead of fries, we summoned an order of mac & cheese ($7), aimed at kids: thus, toothsome rotini in a mild (OK but barely perceptible) cheese sauce, accompanied by al dente carrot coins and a fruit garnish. Not bad, but not habit-forming.

Next, the menu’s lamb shank ($30) — ruddy, meaty, super-tender and mild in flavor under its zippy veil of harissa jam. It’s partnered with spring-green English peas, snippets of asparagus and grape tomatoes, all resting on a tumble of Israeli couscous, adding texture. Other take-out entrees include pulled pork sandwich, halibut and pasta choices, $20-$28). Dessert? Ice cream, so we passed — and had another bowl of that winsome mushroom soup.

The Kenwood Restaurant
2115 W. 21st St.